The Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with San Diego-based Sempra Energy to work on decarbonization strategies.

NREL

In the MOU, Sempra and NREL agreed to focus on advancing artificial intelligence to scale solutions across the United States. They also plan to integrate low-carbon fuel solutions, including hydrogen, renewable natural gas, carbon capture/sequestration, and fuel cells. They also are exploring 100% renewable energy communities, as well as enhancing electric grids.

The nonbinding, five-year pact has “more strategic intent” than typical partnerships with the federal lab, said NREL’s Doug Arent, director of strategic public/private partnerships.

Sempra’s Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) and San Diego Gas and Electric Co. (SDG&E) intersect with the broader economy through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and through U.S. Navy operations in San Diego, he said. 

The MOU builds off of 10 years of collaboration and is intended to advance net-zero energy systems, which already are underway.

“We will continue current work researching and developing innovative solutions to help shape a lower carbon future through technology and applications capable of withstanding increasing energy demand and broad adoption while advancing future innovation, said Sempra’s Lisa Alexander, chief sustainability officer.

NREL is counting on the ability of Sempra’s utilities to tap into energy systems on a regional level. The partnership is designed to identify synergies across power, low carbon fuels and industrial sectors to provide critical innovations.

Past collaborations with NREL include SDG&E’s utility microgrid in Borrego Springs, CA, which is connected to a 26 MW solar field, two battery storage systems, two generators, and an ultracapacitor. SoCalGas also has a zero carbon power-to-gas system in which electricity is converted to hydrogen.